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Remembering ‘The Great War’

World War I next downtown mural

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Remembering ‘The Great War’

Ray Nobel of the Manteca Mural Society looks over photographs from World War I with muralist Dave Gordon Thursday morning at a meeting at the American Legion Hall about the mural commemorating thos...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin /


POSTED March 24, 2017 1:17 a.m.

When Dave Gordon sets out to do a mural he tries to gather as much information he can about the people that are going to be showcased in it.
And that goes doubly so for veterans.
The Sebastopol-based muralist – who painted the first undertaking of the Manteca Mural Society on the wall of Century Furniture and has been back to do several others throughout the community – was on hand Thursday morning to discuss the elements that the community wants included with the next veterans’ memorial mural that honors those who answered the call to serve during World War I.
By reaching out to the community, Gordon said, he’s able to get the perspective that people want and learn things that help make the finished product that much more personal to those they memorialize.
“It’s silly to think that I have all of the answers,” said Gordon – who plans on having the mural completed by May of 2018 in time for the city’s centennial celebration.  World War I ended the same year the city was incorporated 100 years ago.
“You never know where a good idea is going to come from, and meetings like this open things up and gives you a unique look into what it is that people want to see and it allows you to see something that you might not have thought of,” Gordon added.
“These are not just war murals, these are veterans’ murals – the people are the important part of this and I want to keep that as the focus.”
The problem that the Manteca Mural Society and people like Charleen Carrol have had in assembling that information, however, is that it’s the first mural that they’ve done where everybody who actually fought in the war has passed away. The group timed the murals to maximize the involvement of the veterans themselves – getting the perspective of WWII veterans early on for that very reason, and just recently beginning the work on the Vietnam veteran’s mural so that those brave men could offer their input as well.
But Carrol has gotten some input from those in the community related to those that served.
Chris Siouris, the grandson of the late Gregory Micheletos, contacted her with pictures of his grandfather in his World War I uniform – recounting the story of the native of Greece emigrating to the United States in 1913 and eventually enlisting in the Army and being sent to France to fight in “The Great War.”
After arriving home, Micheletos and his wife Mary eventually settled in Manteca where they planted a vineyard that still grows to this day. He also included a letter that his family received from President Jimmy Carter when his grandfather passed away in 1976.
Those kinds of stories, Carrol said, are what the group needs to give the project the local flavor that it deserves.
“It’s the first time where we don’t have the veterans themselves to talk to and we need the families to reach out to us,” Carrol said. “These are the stories that we want encapsulated in the mural and we’re trying to find out as much as we can from people who have photographs or stories from the community.”
Those who have local relatives that fought during World War I are encouraged to contact Carrol at 209.823.1386 with any information they may have that they want to provide to the mural committee before they make their final decisions.
The Vietnam mural will be dedicated later this year. The May 2018 target date for the World War I mural is likely to take place during the Memorial Day Weekend given that the day of the incorporation falls on Memorial Day, May 28, 2018.
The weekend is when the major commemoration takes place at Woodward Park that attracts between 20,000 and 30,000 people who gather to honor veterans. The mural society at the time also plans to dedicate the entire wall on the Bedquarters building at Main Street and Yosemite Avenue that will have five war murals spanning from World War I to the Global War on Terror. It is believed to be the only such collection of murals in California.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

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